For Science: New research tries to link game choices, soft skills, and career paths


I suspect most long-time MMORPG gamers can point to a useful skill, contact, or experience in gaming that helped them in their careers or lives at some point, or maybe it even influenced our choice in job, but we might be tempted to dismiss that as anecdotal or insignificant. Maybe we shouldn’t: New research published this past November attempted to “[investigate] the actual gaming behaviour of individuals from an extensive secondary data set to further support gamers’ future career planning and professional training.”

In How Online Gaming Could Enhance Your Career Prospects, UK academics studied over 16,000 participants (81% of them men) and compared their Steam gaming behavior with their job details and gender in an effort to link gaming-related “soft skills” to training useful for different career paths – essentially attempting to build on prior research.

“We found that IT professionals and engineers played puzzle-platform games, allowing for enhanced spatial skills,” the paper says. “Managers showed an interest in action roleplay games where organisational and planning skills can be improved. Finally, engineers were associated with strategy games that required problem-solving and spatial skills. There were apparent gender differences too: females preferred playing single-player games, whereas males played shooting games.”

The researchers do note limitations, specific to the limited job categories (most of the participants did not fall into the three categories listed), and of course the study wasn’t designed to address whether the games create the soft skills or merely attract people who already have them. But hey, don’t be too surprised if that recruiter on Linkedin looks up your Steam games played in the near future.

Source: How Online Gaming Could Enhance Your Career Prospects by Wallinheimo et al. (SAGE)
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